Children come in contact with lots of other children and people during care and it can result in them catching illnesses. They can range from the common cold to more serious communicable diseases.
Why do children sometimes become ill when they are in childcare?
Children are more susceptible to picking up illnesses when they first start childcare because they come into contact with more people and are exposed to a range of infections they may not yet be immune to, than when they are in their own homes. Because childcare environments encourage children to explore the environment, play and interact with others, they will also come in contact with germs.
Why should my child be excluded from care when they are ill?
Health and regulating authorities recommend, and in some cases require early education and care services to exclude ill children from the service. Providers work to prevent the spread of illness by minimising the transmission of infectious disease from one person to another. Most providers will have a policy for the exclusion of sick children that is available for families to read. To reduce the likelihood of illnesses spreading, services have specific hygiene procedures in place such as hand washing, cleaning toys and sanitising surfaces. All children, staff and families at the service benefit from the practice of excluding ill children. It is best to keep ill children at home, they recover faster and result in the infections not being passed onto other children and carers.
What to do when my child gets sick?
Just as parents don’t want to watch their little one suffer, the care providers don’t want to spread the infections either. Care providers will take reasonable steps to minimise the spread of illness – unfortunately it’s just not possible to prevent the spread of all illnesses or diseases in early education and care services. At some point you may need to keep your child away from your service due to illness. It can be difficult for families to know when their child is sick enough to need to stay at home. Taking time off work or study to care for an ill child at home can challenging for families, so it is important to plan and identify care options in the event that your child is not well enough to attend the service. Getting paid leave from work and facing negative attitudes about leave in the workplace can sometimes cause stress for families so it is best to prepare for this should you need to take time off work or study for a sick child.
How do I know if my child is not well enough to go?
A child should not attend their early education and care service if they have an infectious illness. As a general rule children should also not attend care if they have an illness that prevents them from comfortably participating in activities at the service. Sometimes children have ongoing medical needs that can be taken care of at the service such as asthma or anaphylaxis. In these situations, services usually document the child’s general health and behaviour status at enrolment, in consultation with the family. This helps staff to know what is ‘normal’ health and behaviour for children with additional health needs.
What happens if my child gets ill at their service?
The carers at your provider are not medical practitioners and are not able to diagnose whether or not a child has an infectious illness. However, if an infectious illness is suspected, the service may ask the family to come and collect their child as soon as possible or not to bring the child in at all.